rosehip infusion

For a while now I’ve been neglecting a bucket of beautiful rosehips that our dear friend picked for us.

rosehips.jpg

Finally I filled the fridge with so much milk in anticipation of making mozzarella and had no room to keep them, so I turned them into rosehip cordial. Well, nearly. Sometimes I find we’ve really had enough of sugar and will trade off the pleasure of preserving for future use for the benefits of a sugar-free version. I made a rosehip infusion following a compilation of River Cottage Hedgerow and Preserves recipes, only I didn’t add sugar at the end to reduce into a syrup. We’ll need to use it in the next little while as a result, but then we need the vitamin C!

After bringing 800 ml of water to boil, I threw in the rosehips.

cooking-hips.jpg

They cooked for a while, til I could mash them against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. I let them simmer a little longer, cooled, and strained through a jelly bag. Doubled muslin would work. Then I brought another 800 ml of water to boil and repeated the process, only this time I left it to hang overnight.

cooked-hips.jpg

I strained the two infusions through muslin one last time, and decanted into cordial bottles, to store in the fridge and use up in a few days. We’d never tried rosehip cordial before, oh! We’re enthralled with the flavour, sweetened with a few drops of stevia. It won’t last long around here.

rosehip-syrup.jpg

We’d like to go out in search of more hips to preserve in a cordial or a jelly, as there’s still a little of autumn to catch some.

raspberry cordial

Little girls love watching Anne of Green Gables, and oh, alright, I do too. We are planning to read the entire series aloud this autumn, starting with a beloved annotated version of the first book. In honour of this, we made raspberry cordial.

raspberry-icecubes.jpg

Of course, I can’t see that Anne would have served frozen raspberries as ice cubes, nor would Marilla have been likely to spike hers with gin and get tipsy in the garden with friends! (Although perhaps Diana may have…) If the cordial had lasted long enough we might have made popsicles with it too. We’ll be planning to make rows and rows of bottles next raspberry season, now that I am not shy of the process. Do you like cordials?

raspberry-cordial-drinks-small.jpg

elderflower preserving

Early in June of this very dry year in London my little girls and I set out to gather elderflowers for cordial. At first we didn’t know what elder looked like; then we saw it everywhere. Our best finds were along an old trail that was once a railroad, where medicinal plants grow like, well, weeds. We picked a little from each elder, so that enough blossoms were left to fruit into elderberries later in the year. In fact, we’ve never noticed what those berries look like either, so must learn to recognise them next, when we hope to catch them ripe for elderberry recipes.

Elderflowers like to be used right away, or they wilt unhappily. We poured boiling water over the blossoms. Some lemon peel enhances the flavour. Then we covered it to infuse overnight. In the morning we strained out the flowers and composted them, added sugar to the pot, warmed it very slowly to dissolve the sugar, brought it to a boil, and simmered to reduce it a little.

We put the cordial into bottles for refrigeration, and the next day we were brave enough to try it again with sterile bottles, so that we could keep some for winter. Somehow I always end up overfilling the bottle and pouring cordial all over the counter, but little children didn’t mind “cleaning up”.

We followed the recipe in River Cottage Preserves. And then we were very much in love with elderflower and began to make more flowery plans.

elderflower-cordial-bottle.jpg

Have you made a cordial? We like this one for popsicles, poured instead of lemon onto sponge cakes, and – my sweetheart and I are rather fond of it in vodka. But usually we just dilute with water in a bottle, and bring it along on a picnic. Like this.

an-elderflower-cordial-picnic.jpg

Find the illustrated guide and recipe, here.